Malaysia-Singapore Raltions

Category: Malaysia, Singapore
Last Updated: 27 Feb 2023
Pages: 11 Views: 106
Table of contents


Malaysia and Singapore have a unique and special relation due to the geography, ideology history, culture, , economy, politics and ethnicity factors. Even though with the unique and special factors, its sometimes create tensions between both countries. However, it is said that the relations between both countries have evolved from an inherently unstable into a more mature and positive relationship. This paper will be discussing the current major conflict issue which distressing relationship between both countries and also the resolve issue.

This paper also will analyse the relationship during various Prime Minister and their foreign policy towards each other’s. Finally it will discuss why the relationship becomes warmer and the factor that influence the positive relationship.

Order custom essay Malaysia-Singapore Raltions with free plagiarism report

feat icon 450+ experts on 30 subjects feat icon Starting from 3 hours delivery
Get Essay Help


Singapore merged with Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak to form the Federation of Malaysia in 1963. However, this political union proved to be short-lived as Singapore was ousted from the Federation in 1965 due to political and ethnic differences.

This failed political union, and the resulting stigma of separation has continued to cast a shadow over Singapore-Malaysia’s bilateral ties. Furthermore, due to the geographical proximity between these two states, bilateral problems are prone to exaggeration by both sides, often a case of “virtuous self and the stereotypical other”. Malaysia and Singapore relations are unique and special due to factors such as geography, history, politics, ideology, economy, culture and ethnicity. These factors sometimes have created tensions between both countries.

The uniqueness of the relationship is reflected by the various terms used to describe the state of rivalry between the two countries such as “Siamese twins”, “sibling rivalry” or “family quarrel”, suggesting a complex love-hate relationship that has grown out of a shared common history and cultural background, coloured by political differences and, ironically, by economic competition and interdependency. DISPUTES

And Solutions Keretapi Tanah Melayu (Ktm)

In 1990, Malaysia and Singapore had signed an agreement concerning Tanjong Pagar railway station.

Malaysia had agreed to relocate the station to Bukit Timah to allowed development of the land that located in the premium area. On 24 May 2010, a meeting between Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong in Singapore resolved the relocation issue. They announced that Malaysia's national railway company Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTM) will be move out from Tanjong Pagar railway station and establish a station at the Woodlands Train Checkpoint (WTCP) by 1 July 2011.

Malaysia also will relocate its customs, immigration and quarantine facilities from Tanjong Pagar to the WTCP to ensure the systematic and integrated border crossing facility between Malaysia and Singapore . A joint holding company (60 % Malaysia ownership, 40 % Singapore) will then develop the abandoned KTM properties. WATER SUPPLY - Malaysia provides Singapore with about half its water. On 1 September 1961, the Federation of Malaya signed an agreement giving Singapore the right to draw up to 86 million imperial gallons (390,000 m3) of water per day with effect through 2011.

On 29 September 1962, a further agreement was signed providing Singapore the right to draw up to 250 million imperial gallons (1,100,000 m3) per day from the Johore River, with effect through 2061. Both agreements stipulated the price of RM 0. 03 per 1,000 gallons. In turn, the Johor Government pays Singapore RM 0. 50 for every 1000 gallons of treated water. On 31 August 2011, the 1961 water agreement expired and the waterworks and facilities were handed over to the Johor state government.

The handover included the Skudai and Gunung Pulai water treatment plants, which were built and managed by Public Utilities Board (PUB) for 50 years, as well as two pump houses in Pontian and Tebrau .

Johor-Singapore Causeway

The state of Johor currently already has developed ports including Pasir Gudang and Tanjong Pelapas. Under the former Mahathir administration, the Malaysian government scheduled to build a new customs, immigration and quarantine complex on a hilltop near the Johor Bahru railway station.

A bridge is planned to link the new customs complex with the city square. The proposals on replacing the old causeway with a new bridge have resulted in a political rift between the two countries since the early 2000s. Singapore has hinted that it might agree to a bridge if its air force is allowed to use part of Johor's airspace. Malaysia refused the offer and negotiation is said to be still on going. In September 2003, Malaysia first announced its intention to replace its half of the Causeway with a new bridge.

On 5 January 2004, Singapore's Foreign Minister Prof Jayakumar commented that it did not make sense for Singapore to replace its half of the bridge with a new bridge, as it would cost, along with revisions to customs, immigration and quarantine facilities, more than $500 million. On 2 February 2004, Malaysia said it would present Singapore with a new design for the proposed bridge to replace the Causeway, as Malaysia is still interested in building the new bridge.

However, in September 2004, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi announced that Malaysia would defer the half-bridge project as part of its effort to pare down its huge fiscal deficit by deferring big ticket projects. In April 2006, Abdullah Badawi announced that Malaysia would drop the half-bridge project altogether.

Pedra Branca (Pulau Batu Putih)

On 21 December 1979 Malaysia published a new map which showed the island to be within its territorial waters.

This ignited a 29-year territorial dispute which, together with the issue of sovereignty over the nearby maritime features of Middle Rocks and South Ledge, this disputes was presented to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for resolution. On 23 May 2008 the ICJ ruled that Pedra Branca is under Singapore's sovereignty.

The Central Provident Fund (Cpf)

issue has still not been resolved after many years. It is hoped that the Malaysian Government will pursue the long standing issue pertaining to the dilemma of Malaysians who have left the republic for more than a decade and are still unable to withdraw their CPF savings.

Under the present CPF withdrawal regulations, Malaysians from Peninsular Malaysia are only able to withdraw their CPF savings at the age of 50 if they have not been working in the republic for the last two years. The CPF law on withdrawal seems to discriminate against Malaysians from Peninsular Malaysia as other foreigners, including Malaysians from Sabah and Sarawak, are allowed full withdrawal of their CPF savings when they leave Singapore. Land Reclamations Issue – Singapore had extensively conducted the land reclamation activity within its territorial water.

Plans for the Tekong reclamation project were made publicly available since 1991, and for the Tuas project, since 2001. Until January 2002 there is no objection from neighbouring country. However in 2002 Malaysia had objected the activity. After that, Malaysia embarked on two legal tracks to stop Singapore's land reclamation works. First, on 4 July 2003, Malaysia served notice to Singapore that it wanted arbitration to decide whether Singapore has the right to reclaim the land off Tuas and Pulau Tekong.

This arbitration tribunal, comprising five members agreed on by both sides, was formed on 9 Oct 2003. Then, on 5 September 2003 Malaysia applied separately to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) for an order on provisional measures, seeking to put an immediate stop to Singapore's reclamation works pending the setting up of the arbitration panel. The hearing took place between 25 and 27 Sep 03 in Hamburg, Germany. On 8 Oct 2003, ITLOS unanimously decided that Singapore could continue its land reclamation activities.

In April 2005, Singapore and Malaysia formally ended the reclamation dispute by signing a settlement agreement.

Factors Affecting the Relationship Between Malaysia and Singapore

Looking at the leadership style of both Prime Minister after the independent of Singapore, there is a high and low relationship which creating the foreign policy towards both countries. We can observed during the Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Abdul Razak and also Tun Hussein Onn, the relationship is calm and interdependent towards each other.

During this era also, Mr Lee Kuan Yew as the Prime Minister His leadership style have a strong influence in the manner of bilateral issue between both countries. He is serious in dealing with the issue and also influence by his past experience and the pre and post separation political baggage. To show the difficulties in the relationship, Singapore first Deputy Prime Minister Mr Lee Hsien Loong says: “ its relationship with Malaysia is one of its important and complex foreign relation” And Tun Mahathir also had a remark that saying: it’s impossible to be friendly with Singapore because of the neighbouring city states unfriendliness towards Malaysia. Singapore gets into that kind of mood that they reject anything that comes from Malaysia. We try to be friendly as possible but it’s impossible” Relations with Singapore under Mahathir's tenure have been stormy. Many disputed issues raised during his administration have not been resolved. Many of these international issues have been raised up under Mahathir's Premiership term, but no significant headway had been made then to resolve them bilaterally.

Both sides had stubbornly refused to compromise, with the result of bilateral relations turning frosty. Tun Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi became the fifth Prime Minister in 2003 and he was Dr Mahathir’s choice. Since Abdullah Badawi took over, bilateral relations between Singapore and Malaysia have undergone a sea change. Part of it was due to Abdullah warm personality, non-confrontational, consensus-seeking characters and sincere attempts to improve ties together with his policy are to give in to almost every request, and relations have begun to thaw.

And this was reciprocated by Singapore leaders, as reflected in the flow of many senior Singaporean leaders to the funeral of Datin Seri Endon, Mr Abdullah’s latewife – which certainly went beyond the call of protocol. During Pak Lah era, few discussion has been made such as the causeway issue, air space issue and also the KTM land in Tanjong Pagar. They are trying to resolve the issue through the win-win situation. When Dato’ Seri Najib taking over the Prime Minister of Malaysia, the relationship is grow warming.

The effort of Najib in clearing major bilateral issue concerning both countries make that relation becoming more mature and good. Since the effort of clearing the implementation of the point of agreement (POA) which had been negotiated and agreed upon in 1990 which involved the KTM land in Tanjung Pagar that cleared in 2010, more bilateral relationship and opportunities is open.

Warming Ties Between Malaysia and Singapore

There is several issue and factors that make the relationship between Malaysia Nad Singapore becoming warmer. The economic factor is one of the most important relations and always had a high degree of inter dependence.

Malaysia and Singapore have been each other's main trading partners for many years. Data from Malaysia's Department of Statistics, for instance, show that bilateral trade between Malaysia and Singapore was valued at RM175. 5bil last year, up from RM161. 7bil in 2011. Malaysia remains Singapore's largest trading partner, while Singapore is Malaysia's second largest trading partner after China. Malaysia and Singapore economic interdependence is just not reflected in the bilateral trade only, it also involving the investment in both countries.

From the data tabled by the Malays Malaysian Industrial Development Authority show that Singapore remains one of the top investors in the country, with total value of approved projects standing at RM2. 2bil last year, down slightly from RMRM2. 5bil in 2011 because of the global economic weakness. Singapore's investments in Malaysia are mainly concentrated in the manufacturing sector. Recently, the development of Iskandar had attracted the Singapore investors and that had make their investor is the largest single group of investor there which accounting about 17% of the total money invested there.

In the other sides, Malaysia investors also actively invested in Singapore. It had been showed with involvement Malaysian company like YTL Corp, SP Setia and Selangor Dredging in real estate business, Maybank in financial sector, Axiata Group in telecommunication and also Genting Berhad in the leisure and hospitality sector. The government investment arm from both country namely Khazanah from Malaysia and Temasek from Singapore also had form a joint venture in developing the commercial land parcels in Singapore such as Marina South and Ophir-Ophir .

In Iskandar they are also establishing the joint venture company to invest in two wellness related project with a gross development value of RM 3b. To increase connectivity between both countries, few projects has been agreed and initiated. The extension of MRT from Singapore to Johore Bharu is planned to be built to reduce the traffic congestion in both entrance in Singapore and Malaysia. The High Speed Train from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore also planned to reduce travel time to 90 minutes. This infrastructure development also will increase the economic development in the area.

In security and defence matters, both states share a serious concern over the emergence of JI in the region. They have coordinated on police work and intelligence sharing, and even synchronized the initial arrests of JI members in December 2001. JI members were imprisoned in both countries under the Internal Security Act (ISA), which both Malaysia and Singapore patterned after the British law that allows for detention without trial for up to two years for supposedly dangerous suspects. Also, both countries have put pressure on Indonesia to take a more active role in confronting the terrorism problem.

In the military, several bilateral exercise and operation is conducted to reduce the crime in Straits of Malacca, Eyes in The Sky Operation is jointly conducted to scout the strait for pirates. The flights are undertaken by crews with nationals from the different countries so they can better share information. Intelligence gathered on pirates is also disseminated among governments, including on a Web-based network for quick and easy access. These actions, taken together, made it far more costly and difficult for the pirates to operate.

Both military forces also involve in the Five Power Defence Arrangement that are a series of defence relationships established by a series of bilateral agreements between the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore signed in 1971, whereby the five states will consult each other in the event of external aggression or threat of attack against Peninsular Malaysia (East Malaysia is not included as part of the area of responsibilities under the FPDA) or Singapore.

Factors That Makes the Relationship Growing Ties

The first factor is the leadership role and function. With the new eneration of leader ship which is the second generation of previous leader, Najib is son of Tun Abd Razak and Lee Hsien Loong is son of Lee Kuan Yew, they are trying actively to resolve the bilateral issue of both countries. With the new generation thinking they realised the interdependence both country each many matters. The second factor economic interdependence which shows that both country are main trading partner each other. Malaysia also inviting the investors from Singapore to invest in the economic development project initiate in many region in Malaysia such as IRDA, ECER and also NCER.

The encouragement by both governments through their public and private sector to collaborate with their counterpart shows there relationship will going stronger. The third factor is massive people to people contact which encouraging tourist from both countries visiting each other will develop this contact. This will created necessary goodwill and tolerance among others. This also had been expanded through sport activity which we can see that the football team from both countries is participating in the league.


We can conclude that due to their historical, cultural linkages and their geographical proximity Malaysia and Singapore had enjoyed and share a special relationship. The issue and challenge between each other had brought a god point for both countries to sit down and discussing the way to move forward. Both of the leaders are aware the important of each other in many factors. Both new generation leaders is trying hard to improve the relationship with each other’s even though there is a few issue that not resolve yet.

But their mutual agreement in developing economic sector each other shows the positive prospect towards very warm relationship. Both leaders also seem in the same view in settling issue through win-win situation and compromise. With the realisation by the leaders in win-win situation and compromising each other, it may lead towards prosperous relationship in the future. It’s the leader and their foreign policy which is determining the future of these relations. Thus, the leader should take every effort to ensure the warming of the relationship is preserve to ensure the mutual benefits.

The security and military activities is to be enhanced to ensure the safety of both countries. With the firm security the development of economy can be planned and develop towards higher level. With the interest of Singapore investors in IRDA is high, it is not possible Singapore will extend the security watch in the area to ensure safety of their investment. Thus this will benefit both countries towards long and warm relationship. Despite all the bilateral issue, it is observed that, both country is dependant each other in economy, social, and also security aspect.

With that the warming relations that initiated by both the new generation leader is a good step towards more close relation.

Cite this Page

Malaysia-Singapore Raltions. (2017, Jan 18). Retrieved from

Don't let plagiarism ruin your grade

Run a free check or have your essay done for you

plagiarism ruin image

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Save time and let our verified experts help you.

Hire writer